“Two nil and they effed it up”, but we couldn’t have complained if they’d managed to hold on.
That they didn’t was as much due to their own incompetence as anything we did. Their time wasting caught up with them in the form of the extra minutes added on, our foothold back in the game came after Adrian’s poor clearance and the way they sat back and invited us on in the last few minutes was just asking for trouble.
EuropaLeague-itis was evident from the first whistle, our tempo was low and passing shoddy, but we were still pressing and were close to taking the lead when Adrian tipped over Bentaleb’s shot and Harry prodded against the post. It all started going wrong though when Kouyate got between Dier and Vertonghen and headed firmly home to give the Hamsters the lead. Dembèlè had given the ball away cheaply for the goal and whilst he was probably the worst culprit for repeating this sin, Mason, Lamela, Walker and even the sainted Kane made sure that it wasn’t a title he won easily. The speed with which we handed over hard won ownership of the ball was distressing and depressing to see in a team we were hoping were above this sort of thing.
We drifted along, not creating much – Rose’s header from Kane’s lovely chip notwithstanding – whilst West Ham simply waited for us to give the ball back. They grew in confidence, their cheeky scamp supporters gained a second wind and we looked forlorn. Even this side, which we should know by now not to give up on, looked tired, outthought and outplayed. Pochettino’s selection didn’t help matters. Eriksen on the bench with Chadli meant the pressure for goals was solely on Kane. To play half a team on Thursday, prioritising this one, and then not to play two of your main three goal threats? Doesn’t make sense.
Things got worse when Sakho scored on the break in the second half and then nearly again when Hugo saved point blank to stop the game disappearing over the horizon. Eriksen was on for the hapless Dembèlè by now whose sense of direction was so erratic in the first half I hope he wasn’t allowed to drive home.
Throughout the second half West Ham behaved like they thought they were winning by accident instead of merit. Their injury feigning and time wasting took the sting and momentum from the game at a time when they were most likely to score next. Soldado came on and then Chadli. Our shape was a mess, Kane was being crowded out whenever he was on the ball and a goal looked as unlikely as two minutes without a West Ham player sucking the floor in fake agony.
Then hope, in the form of a Rose volley, arrived from nowhere after Adrian pushed out a cross he should’ve held. West Ham stopped playing and we took over. The referee allowed for the time that the keeper and others had waded through and the pressure told when Song took Harry’s heels. Kane has a poor reputation as a penalty taker and he nearly ballsed it up but thankfully was first to the rebound and a surprise point was ours.
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